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Blog Search = Political Analysis

By - July 22, 2004

From Dave Sifry’s blog (he’s the founder of Technorati):

A few minutes ago CNN announced that Technorati will be providing real-time analysis of the political blogosphere at next week’s Democratic National Convention. I will be on-site in CNN’s convention broadcast center, along with Mary Hodder, and I’ll be providing regular on-air commentary on what bloggers are saying about politics and the convention. And on Sunday, July 25, we’ll launch a new section of our site for political coverage: politics.technorati.com. This site will make it easy for bloggers,
journalists, and anyone interested in politics to see the postings of the most linked-to political bloggers, to track the ideas with the fastest-growing buzz, and to monitor conversations in thousands of other political blogs. CNN.com will link to this site, and we’ll be updating the CNN site with the latest from the blogosphere.

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Blinkx to Launch

By - July 19, 2004

b.gifThe parade of would-be Google dethroners continues, with the launch of Blinkx this week. In the extended entry is the release, I posted on it earlier here

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Wide Open?

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Cnet today runs a piece on click fraud, the practice of driving revenue through fake clicks on paid search links. This has been something of a whistling-past-the-graveyard issue for the entire paid search field (see here and here). Stefanie Olsen reports. Worth a read.

….some marketing executives estimate that up to 20 percent of fees in certain advertising categories continue to be based on nonexistent consumers in today’s search industry.

In one recent example of the problem, law enforcement officials say a California man created a software program that he claimed could let spammers bilk Google out of millions of dollars in fraudulent clicks. Authorities said he was arrested while trying to blackmail Google for $150,000 to hand over the program. He was indicted by a California jury in June.

As We May Rant

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Another rehash on “the future of search” – this one from Fast Company. OK, ready? It’s…contextual, behavioral targeting, and local. Whoa. I have to keep in mind that the readers of larger magazines are not search enthusiasts, but still…the cliches (“Meet the future of advertising!”), the careworn anecdotes (they trotted out the Adsense-displays-luggage-ads-next-to-suitcase-murder story, gleefuly planted by Overture last summer), the lack of analysis. Is this how you justify shipping atoms around the nation? At least my “intent over content” meme gets a boost, from Charlene Li, at Forrester. “You could never target intent before, in any medium,” says Li, capturing what’s exciting about the new method. “You just put your message out there around content that seemed likely to attract the right people and hoped it worked.”

Glad to see that idea spreading.

Is Subscription the Next Thing?

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newsboxAdam Pennenberg does a fine job of beating up the Times in this Wired News piece. He points out that folks go to Google (and others) to find things, and that, for the most part, you can’t find the Times in Google. He then critiques the Times’ current business model, but offers no viable alternative, suggesting only that the Times figure it out.

Well, I agree. But how about we suggest some alternatives?

Adam points out: The Times attracts 9 million unique visitors a month, while only about 1 million read the daily paper. But the dot-com makes a scant $11 per user, while the printed paper earns the Times a whopping $900 per reader (in subscription fees and advertising).

Why is this? Why, because of print advertising, of course, as well as print subscription fees. That’s where the money is. Value always trails usage. Martin’s digital unit has been growing every single year, and is making tens of millions of dollars in profit. But the true chasm crossing moment is still to come. To win online, they will have to abandon print and its business model, and make it their archive available free. Right?

Maybe not. I am quite sure that the major engines, Google and Yahoo in particular, have been and will be again in pretty deep conversations with “traditional” publishers to figure out a model whereby their content can pass through search portals in a manner that allows value to be fairly apportioned. How might this happen? Danny Hillis has some ideas about that, which will appear in an upcoming column of mine, but it has to do with subscription models and aggregation.

A summary of his thinking with my spin goes like this. What revenue stream accounts for the lion’s share of search’s margin? Advertising. That’s a one legged stool ready to tip over. As the search giants become more and more media companies, they must develop subscription services, and because users won’t want to pay for something they already believe is free (searching) search engines will have to figure out a way to become middlemen to paid content. After all, they own distribution, so they should become…distributors. Were they to execute this service in a scaled and elegant fashion, it might be viewed as a benefit – in many cases, subscribers will get more content for less than they were paying in the past (that’s the benefit of volume).

Many internet users have one or two paid relationships with content providers already, a smaller but richer percentage have far more than that. Imagine a service where you can subscribe to one simple paid channel, a channel that has all your favorite paid content, including, say, the Times archive. You pay one sub fee, and use it as you wish. The content providers to the paid channel get paid by the search engine based on usage patterns over time (neat how the search engine can track your usage, eh?).

The only companies with the gravitas to pull off such a system are the search portals (or Microsoft through IE and MSN). And such a system would only work if folks like the Times and the WSJ give it their blessing. But once it starts rolling, it could really, really scale. I’d guess, and it’s just that, a wild guess, that such a system is already in development at both Yahoo and Google. Can I imagine giving Google $40 a month to get the WSJ, Times archives, BBC archives, all my favorite blog archives, and whatever other universe of paid content I might want to add elegantly served up in a Googlish interface? Yup. No brainer. Sign me up.

Report: Google Audio/Visual Search Coming

By - July 13, 2004

The NY Post reports that Larry and Sergey talked up an upcoming multimedia search capability while at the Allen & Co. retreat this week.

Google is planning to launch a new feature to allow users to scour the Internet for audio and video clips, The Post has learned.

The company has yet to announce plans for the new service, but Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page made no secret of it during talks with investors and media executives at an annual retreat hosted by investment bank Allen & Co. in Sun Valley, Idaho…

…When it comes to multimedia searches, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google trails some of its competitors.

Yahoo’s AltaVista, one of the oldest search engines, already allows users to search for audio and video. Time Warner’s AOL, which has paid-search partnership with Google, bought Singingfish earlier this year in a move to offer multimedia search capabilities.

In the past, Google and other search engines have expressed some trepidation about listing audio and video files because of legal concerns that some of the content may have been illegally copied and downloaded.